“Mi no sal tron tongo” Early Sranan in court records 1667 – 1767

While Sranan is relatively well documented among creole languages, many of its early sources derive from non-native (i.e. European) authors.

In addition to that, virtually no records are available for the pre-1765 period. It is important, therefore, to supplement the early Sranan text corpus both with regard to type of source and period covered.

One particular type of document which is useful in both regards is represented by 17th- and 18th-century court records, in which (parts of) Blacks’ testimonies are occasionally reproduced in Sranan.

The great majority of these records are contained in the archives of the Hof van Politie en Criminele Justitie, stored in the Nationaal Rijksarchief (NA) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Some additional data can be found in the archives of the Societeit van Suriname, also in the NA. These records, covering the 100-year period between 1667 (when Suriname came into Dutch hands) and 1767, consist mainly of depositions, statements and reports of examinations.

The earliest document mentioning a lawsuit concerning an African slave dates from 1684. The earliest Sranan sentences that were found in these records date 1707.

These antedate any other Sranan source known to exist. Apart from a number of interesting metalinguistic observations, these documents contain some 500 isolated Sranan words (tokens) and some 50 Sranan sentences. By following Infos Guyane blog, you will find many news and information, and if you want more you can always contact infos-guyane.com.